Sex shop and sex cinema licence

We have adopted Schedule 3 of the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1982, which covers the licensing of sex establishment and Section 12 of the Greater London Council (General Powers) Act 1986, which amends the definition of sex establishment to include sex encounter establishments (such as peep shows). Therefore, to run a sex shop, sex cinema or sex encounter establishment in this borough you will need a licence from us. 


Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1982 (c. 30)

Eligibility criteria

An applicant for a sex establishment licence: 

  • Must be at least 18 years old 
  • Must not be disqualified from holding a licence 
  • Must have been resident in the UK at least six months immediately before the application or, if a body corporate, must be incorporated in the UK 
  • Must not have been refused the grant or renewal of a licence for the premises in question within the last 12 months unless the refusal has been reversed on appeal 


A fee of £2,880 is payable for both new and renewal applications. No element of the fee will be refunded should the application be withdrawn or refused. The licence, unless cancelled or revoked, remains in force for 12 months. 

We are able to adopt reasonable policy guidelines to determine application and, in particular the number of sex establishments that we consider appropriate. We have adopted policy guidelines which state that there is no place within our boundaries that would be appropriate to licence a sex establishment. However, this does not prevent an application from being made as any application must be considered on its own merits. 

Application evaluation process

All applications must be advertised in the local press. In addition, where the application is in respect of premises, a notice must be displayed outside the premises for 21 days. A copy of the application must also be sent to the Metropolitan Police no later than seven days after the application is made. 


Any person objecting to an application for the grant, renewal or transfer of a licence may give written notice of their objection to us, stating the grounds of the objection, within 28 days of the date of the application. 

All applications for the grant or renewal of a licence will be considered by our Regulatory Licensing Committee. An application can only be refused on the following grounds: 

a) That the applicant is unsuitable to hold the licence by reason of having been convicted of an offence or for any other reason

b) That if the licence were to be granted, the business to which it relates would be managed by or carried on for the benefit of a person, other than the applicant, who would be refused the grant of such a licence if they made the application themselves

c) that the number of sex establishments in the relevant locality at the time the application is made is equal to or exceeds the number which we consider is appropriate for the locality

d) The grant of the licence would be inappropriate, having regard: 

     (i) to the character of the relevant locality; or 

     (ii) to the use which any premises in the vicinity are put; or 

    (iii) to the layout, character or condition of the premises in

           respect of which the application is made

We may impose terms, conditions and restrictions when granting or renewing a licence:

Will tacit consent apply?

No. It is in the public interest that we must process your application before it can be granted. If you have not heard from us within a reasonable period, you can contact us.

What to do if your application is refused

If your application is refused a licence, or refused the renewal of a licence, you may appeal within 21 days of being notified to: 

South Western Magistrates' Court
176a Lavender Hill
SW11 1JU 

However, the right to appeal does not apply where the licence was refused on the grounds that: 

  • The number of sex establishments in the area exceeds the number which we consider is appropriate, or 
  • The grant of the licence would be inappropriate considering the character of the area, the nature of other premises in the area, or the premises themselves 

In such cases, an applicant may apply to the High Court for judicial review of the decision.

What to do if you are unhappy with an imposed condition 

You may at any time apply to us for a variation of the terms, conditions or restrictions of your licence. 

If an application for a variation is refused or if the licence is revoked, you may appeal to the local magistrates' court (address above) within 21 days of being notified. 

You may also appeal to the Crown Court against a decision of a Magistrates' Court.

Contact us

You should contact us if you have a query about your licence.

If you want to make a complaint about a sex establishment, you can report it online.  

Health and safety

Before setting up any business in the UK, you must ensure that it will comply with the relevant health and safety regulations. 

Further information on health and safety.